Leaf by leaf, the balcony green curtain fills in

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梅雨のあいだに、ベランダのグリーンカーテンがどんどん濃くなっています。今、つる植物が8種類あります。バナナの木も、都市と家のあいだに緑の壁を作ってくれています。

In a month of humidity and heat, this year’s green curtain is gradually filling in. There are now eight vines, and the banana tree providing a green wall between home and city.

 

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Did I mention how much I love Taipei?

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台北が大好きです。壁やどこにでも植物が育ちます。屋上を楽しく使っていて、狭い路地がいっぱいあります。

Plants growing everywhere, people building shacks and hanging out on rooftops, narrow alleys.

Even in winter, this Nakano house is covered in flowers

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冬でも、この中野の家は、花であふれます。壁に、植物が五百ぐらいあります。

I’ve posted photos and written about this flower wall garden for The Plant, a visually stunning semi-annual magazine about urban nature. Even in winter, the garden is so colorful. Really, it is one of Nakano’s most incredible personal gardens, with hundreds of flowers covering the three story facade.

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Complex wall garden also includes community notice board and bike parking

中野の南台で、誰かが、きれいな壁の庭を作りました。あまり場所がないところにも、庭ができます。

On Nakano Dori, just above Sasazuka, I marveled at this ingenious wall garden. I love that this gardener has created three horizontal layers of pots: on the sidewalk, on the suspended shelves, and on top of the cinderblock wall. There are also several levels of trees popping up from the micro space between the home and the wall. Along with the notice board and the bike parking, the garden shows how to maximize a limited space.

Stone wall and giant trees offer rare glimpse into past

大きい木の影の下で、この芝公園の壁は江戸時代の建築を思い出させます。

This one stretch of wall at Shiba Koen, with the towering trees above it, provides a rare glimpse into Tokyo’s architectural past.

Professor Owl teaches a class of animals, near Nodai campus

農大の近くに、梟先生が動物のクラスを教えています。コンクリート・ブロックの壁の中に、小さな驚きです。

What a happy classroom taught by professor owl. Yuki spotted this cute diorama in the gap space in a resident’s cinderblock wall, between Nodai and the Kyodo station. What a tiny surprise.

Mini apples in flower arrangement

あなたの近所の花屋はミニりんごを売っていますか。楽しいと思っています。東京でよく見ます。この壁の花瓶を史火陶芸教室で作りました。

Does your local florist include mini-apples in their arrangements? It’s very common now in Tokyo, and I think it adds a fun element. This wall vase I made at Shiho ceramic studio.

Before and after views of pruned flower bed

花壇の剪定の前と後の写真。この庭はビルの管理人と退職した夫婦が世話をしています。上の写真は、10月で、葉と花が多いです。11月は、隣の壁が見えます。剪定の後で、もっと明るくなりました。冬も毎月、花が咲いています。

I like this before and after photo set. It shows an apartment building green space that sits between the ten story building and its two story neighbors, homes and a plumbing supply business. It borders a small street that is mostly pedestrian.

The garden has a mix of flowering vines, bushes, bulbs, and a row of pine trees that were probably planted 35 or 40 years ago. The utility pole support is borrowed infrastructure for training a vine upwards.

The photo above was taken October 24, 2011, and the one below November 23, 2011. Above you can see all the fullness of summer: lush foliage, pink and red flowers at every height level, a blurring of the boundary with the neighbor’s garden.

A month later, the 3 story tree has been heavily pruned, which lets light in during the cold months. All the plants have been cut back, and you can see the wall separating the properties.

The maintenance is a mix of semi-professional gardeners hired by the apartment building and a retired couple living in the garden apartment. Although far more restrained in winter, the garden continues to bloom in every month, no doubt because of their efforts.

Making wall vases at Shiho ceramic studio

史火陶芸教室の生徒展示会のために、壁の花瓶と植木鉢を作っています。この写真は最初の形です。粘土と釉薬は同じだけど、後ろと前を反対にして、斜めと垂直の形を作りました。

In preparation for the November Shiho students’ ceramic show, I am expanding from flowerpots to wall vases. This is what they looked like after I connected the slabs together. Later comes trimming and carving, baking, glazing, and second baking. I am experimenting with reversing front and back, and how to angle the box that holds the water and flowers.

Bikes lined up outside JR station, a river of wheels in concrete canyon

駅の壁に自転車がたくさん並んでいます。実用的だけど、すばらしいです。暑い日だったので、サラリーマンは半袖を着ています。

There’s something utilitarian and magnificent about this row of hundreds of commuter bikes lined up outside JR Tokyo’s Ryogoku station on a hot summer afternoon. The sun bakes in this concrete canyon, and even the salary men are wearing short sleeves.

Two plants cover home in central Tokyo

2つの植物が家を完全に覆ってしまいました。混雑した都市の中で、簡単な壁の庭がぼくたちを元気づけてくれます。
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.

Green wall outside liquor shop at Nishi Ogikubo station

Liquor shop’s green wall captures attention at JR station in Nishi Ogikubo.

西荻窪駅で、酒屋の緑の壁は注目を集めります。

I like this green wall surrounding the Dila liquor shop as you exit the Nishi Ogikubo JR station. It brightens up the station entrance and draws attention to the shop. It looks like the same type of wall system and plants that Marui uses inside its Shinjuku san-chome store and in the basement near the subway.

I hope this trend catches on, and more commercial spaces see the benefits of green walls. It would be great to see a greater variety of plants, rainwater catchment and re-use, and habitat creation. For now, any green wall catches attention, but perhaps soon there will be more experimentation and creativity.